Nerdy gastronome

Beef & bean burritos with ginger julep mocktails

Right, so this post has been in the works for a while; but I transitioned from lectures every day to pracs a couple of months ago. It’s like a 9-5 job; but you come home to research, tutorials and more study. Gone are the regular holidays, and I’m now sporting something of a caffeine dependence. I’m zonked. So if my words wander all over the place or I miss some obvious typo, that’s why. But on to more interesting things. Obviously, I can’t swan about in the kitchen quite so much. There’s a lot of eggs and spinach on toast on the menu (Tip: lemon pepper makes all the difference). But eggs eaten that often do get old, and slowing down every now and then to make a batch of something is ever so therapeutic. Beef chilli is such a dish. A bit of chopping and stirring, and then leave the thing to blip away while you catch up on ironing. But first let me tell you about apples.

I returned home a month or so ago with crisp, baby gala apples which I’d scooped up in glee. 12 years of school lunches may have put me off whole apples a tad, but for some reason I am still dreadfully fond of gala apples. These darlings are something special. Those and a local orchard’s ‘Rodney’ apple which I had as a kid. Everyone should buy a huge box of fruit from an orchard at least once. But I’m getting sidetracked while trying to tell you about getting sidetracked. So I came home with a bunch of Galas, and realised that I had an even bigger pile of old Pink Lady apples. Gosh I’m hopeless. I subsequently spent rather a large amount of time chopping apples. So I’ve been eating stewed apple and apples sauce with lots of things. I’ve still got a huge container of the stuff in my freezer. I cannot for the life of me remember what this has to do with burritos.

I found cheap limes that day too. They were even cheaper the following week, so naturally I bought some more. I’ve never had access to a lime tree or routinely bought limes. They’ve always been so exorbitantly expensive every time I check.

By the bye, I got a little side tracked with the frozen yoghurt thing. For now, I recommend this basic fruit and yoghurt based recipe, but drip the honey into to yoghurt mix to taste, and swap the plum mix for any pureed raw fruit or stewed fruit spiked with honey. What do you think about yoghurt, coconut milk, lime juice, zest and something else in any icy pole? Hmmm.

Anyway, swimming in limes as I was, it seemed like the perfect time to work on my own burrito mix. I grew up with the sometimes stodgy refried beans mix, and the last straight beef recipe I tried was too heavy. Too many spices and not enough tomatoes. So here’s my first draft. A fair amount of tomato simmered with beans and beef until the tomato melds into the dish. Gone is the brash acidity of pure tomato chunks, and left behind is a little bit of perk. Side note: I’m quite partial to borlotti or black beans with red meat. Up against beef and plenty of spices, they hold their own, whilst still lending creaminess.

Beef chilli and beans burrito

Update: I’ve since added paprika to this recipe. And I now love using black beans instead of borlotti. While I usually can’t find canned black beans at my regular supermarket, I can now stockpile dried beans from Kakulas thanks to my new pressure cooker.

Burrito mix

Heat stable oil/cooking fat
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Dried chilli to taste
500g beef mince
400g can of diced tomatoes
~1c beef stock, or hot water + 1 tsp stock powder
400g can of your favourite beans (or ~1 1/2 c of cooked dried beans), rinsed well and drained
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Make ginger julep and bust out that hippy album which you can’t for the life of you recall why you bought. Then decide it’s actually pretty good. Now get cooking.
2. Heat a heavy sauté pan at the medium end of low-medium and heat a splash of a heat stable oil. Saute onion until tender and golden.

3. Make a space in the pan and add garlic and spices; stir it about until fragrant.

4. Add mince and stir until browned evenly and thoroughly broken up.

5. Add tomatoes, stock and beans and simmer on low heat for ~1/2 an hour with a lid loosely placed on top, or until the tomatoes have disappeared into the mix. Stir periodically, and remove the lid towards the end if you’ve got more liquid kicking around than you would like. Now that your liquids aren’t going anywhere, season and serve up!

Makes 4 generous servings, eg piled atop brown rice and wilted spinach and topped with chopped avocado, tomato, red onion, corn, whatever. Just go with the Tex-Mex vibe… For burritos, this should give you enough for 2 per person. I’m pretty fond of swaddling the beef and beans mix in wholemeal and rye blend tortillas; shredded lettuce or smaller leafed greens such as baby spinach, chopped tomato, cucumber, Greek yoghurt and and a heavy handed squeeze of lime juice. It’s nothing especially scintillating or authentic – but it’s stuff I I invariably have on hand, and hits the spot.

Freezes well.

Beef chilli and beans burrito

Ginger julep mocktail

When one is in burrito mode, the natural thing to do is to make a similarly effortless and festive beverage. Dry ginger ale, lemon juice and mint do that for me. In other words: gingery take on the mint julep. The first ginger julep recipe I saw was in Margaret Fulton’s Christmas book, and the picture below is from Christmas actually. It utterly captivated me, and the result – albeit with some shortcuts and none of the added sugar (although the latter comes down to personal preference) – had me hooked. I really blend the mint here, so I get quite a brilliant green drink. This can put some veggie phobes off, but they soon come ‘round after you insist they give it a try. The concept is simple, and so it’s easy to tweak until you land on your preferred ratio of ingredients.

Ginger julep

Here’s the basic steps:

1. Blitz the juice of a lemon with ~1/2 a cup of mint leaves ‘till kingdom come in a blender. This is where civilised people let the mixture infuse for a couple of hours. With a good blender, I haven’t seen the need.

2. Strain the remaining leafy bits. The observant among you will be able to tell that I didn’t bother doing this in the above picture. But do strain it. Otherwise things get rather scratchy.

3. Pour into a jug filled one third of the way with ice, and top up with dry ginger ale (one of those 1-1.25L bottles will do. Taste, and top up with extra lemon juice or ginger ale as needed.

To serve one, just take a glug or three out of an individual sized bottle of ginger beer, and replace that space a handful of bruised (really thump it. Again, therapeutic) mint leaves and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

If you’re making burritos for one – you may as well use the leftover lime juice here too. The ginger, mint and lime icy poles by Delish Ice at the Perth Twilight Hawker’s Markets swept me off my feet a couple of Fridays ago. Although, I had to double check by making julep with lime whilst writing this. You know, just to be sure…

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This entry was published on April 20, 2014 at 7:58 pm. It’s filed under In the kitchen and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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